I feel as though the game mechanics are taking a while to mature due to the lack of consistent critical testing and after tonight’s run through I am more confident about trying a face-to-face and an online playtest group.
Tonight we ran through the 7th of 12 chapters and the 7th is the Debate between Laws. As it was a playtest focused mostly on the mechanics, I quickly filled in details about the province (formerly called precinct in earlier versions) and the story circumstances of the conflict filled themselves in as the combat developed. This was the first use of chapter 7 and we cut right to the battle between the PC Law and the NPC Law. This game only has the players roll the dice, but there are a few escalation features as well–most notably Chaos. The more Chaos the more d10s and things get worse.
Since we had two versions of the dice pool to test we opted to run through the same fight with the A/B pool use. Things started out more or less the same and then it happened when the second option seemed to really make the player be more engaged and as a result I was more invested with each choice the player made. The Chaos definitely escalated more in the second case and the complication stacked resulting in bitter victory for the PC Law, winning the Debate and losing the respect of his province in the process for doing what he was made to do.
Photo: Detail of the Laws of Conflict sheet for the Vigilance RPG.
Last night, a friend of mine agreed to do a one on one playtest of Dark Well and it went surprisingly well. We set the game in South America in the 1970s with my friend playing a mercenary archeologist who locates and sells rare artifacts to the highest bidder.
Dark Well has gone through a number of changes in recent time. The most recent evolution was tested at Gamehole Con, 2018, and proved to be a big hit with the group. Since then I’ve been working to refine the game. I playtested the game with two friends during a Corridor Games on Demand Playing in Public event not too long ago and they both really enjoyed both the system and the story setting.
The core of the token system works well. It’s the character + conspiramid changes that I’m still working to test and I feel that it will require more than one-shots to do this properly.
In the playtest that we ran last night, the archeologist’s greed seemed to get the better of him and neither the player nor me as the GM were certain which was “real” to the PC and which was a hallucination. This line between the two was exactly what was needed and we both played to it, even into the epilogue.
Now I just need to test the game’s setting and tone with more people I don’t know as well and then write up the prompts and structure that reinforces how this is done.
Corridor Games on Demand had a great time at Gamicon 2019.
We ran about 16 games over three days, which included our special guest, Nathan Paoletta of NDP Design. Nathan also hosted a wonderful workshop titled, “Get Your Game Into The World: Self-Publishing Workshop.”
I ran all three sessions of the Amber long con event with a couple repeating players and a few different ones. I also ran Epyllion, played Trouble for Hire, played Dialect for the first time, and bought the White Box for game design and a copy of the Shadow of the Beanstalk Android gamebook for Fantasy Flight Games’ Genesys.